Apple announced iOS 9 on Monday, its brand-new operating system for the iPhone and iPad. iOS 9 will offer a ton of new features when it’s deployed as a free update to all iPad and iPhone owners this fall.
And, even better, Apple is going to support every device that’s running on iOS 8 now, which means it’s not going to leave folks on older devices out in the cold.
iOS 9 is going to offer plenty of changes, especially to developers, and we’re sure Apple is going to add some new ones along the way. In the meantime, here are the top 5 features of iOS 9 as announced by Apple on Monday.
1. Split View and Slide View for iPad
These features are limited to the iPad, but we think they’re going to be really popular when they hit. Other platforms, such as Android (on Samsung tablets) and Windows, already allow you to easily run two apps side-by-side. That functionality is finally coming to the iPad with Split View for iOS 9.
There’s also a new Slide View feature that allows you to “slide” in one of many different apps from the side of your iPad’s display. So you can quickly slide messages onto the screen and put it next to Safari in Split View. If you want to swap out Messages for another app, like your email, you can just slide up or down to select your email app.
These features will change the way we use our iPads forever.
2. Siri is smarter
Siri used to be smart, but she’s pretty dumb now if you compare her to Google Now or Cortana. That looks to change in iOS 9, when Siri will hit the books and gain some additional knowledge. You’ll be able to say things like “Show me pictures from last July,” or “Remind me to feed the birds when I get home.”
There’s also a feature called “Siri suggestions” inside search that suggests people you might want to contact, apps you might want to use, news stories you might be interested in and local points of interest nearby. She’s also the brains behind a new and improved search function, which we’ll discuss later.
3. Proactive Assistant
Apple’s new Proactive Assistant feature in iOS 9 will make recommendations based on your actions.
If you typically wake up and open the CNN app for example, it might recommend that app each day when you wake up. Apple also said it will recognize if you plug in your headphones, and will start playing back a podcast you started earlier, or will begin playing a playlist that you usually listen to when you get in the car.
This smart functionality extends everywhere — so recommendations can be made while you’re typing emails, adding events to the calendar and more. Also, it can consider traffic patterns and alert you when you might want to leave for a meeting to beat traffic, a feature that’s already available from Google Now.
Wallet apps have largely failed in the past, but maybe Apple can finally change that. Apple said it’s going to officially change the name of Passbook to Wallet, where you’ll find your Apple Pay cards, new loyalty cards supported by Apple Pay and, of course, your concert tickets, boarding passes and more.
In iOS 9, you’ll be able to double tap the home button to bring up Wallet and use Apple Pay for payments, too. And with those Reward cards in your Wallet, you’ll be able to use Apple Pay automatically with cards from Walgreens, JC Penny, Kohls, Dunkin’ Donuts and more.
Can we finally ditch our real wallets? We’re getting closer.
5. Intelligent Search
Apple is changing the Spotlight Search function in iOS 9 for the better. You might search for the score of the most recent Yankees game, for example, or the weather, and you’ll get results in clean, easy-to-view cards.
Examples provided by Apple include using “stock Apple” to search Apple’s share price, or “18% of $56.78” to quickly calculate “$10.22.” Search can also extend into third party apps, so typing “New York City” might tap into flights from Kayak or Air BNB.
There are plenty of other features coming to iOS 9, like public transit for Maps, a new “News” application that will provide stories from some of the biggest news outlets in the world, and more.
Some improvements are smaller, but still worth discussing briefly. Apple says that the update will measure just 1.3GB in size, which means it will take up a much smaller footprint on your iPhone or iPad (iOS 8 consumed about 4.58GB.) Apple also promises up to an hour of additional usage using a new Low Power mode and a much faster and more responsive experience.
iOS 9 will be available for free to all this fall.